Anderson v. Watt

In Anderson v. Watt, 138 U.S. 694, 11 S.Ct. 449, 34 L.Ed. 1078 (1891), the dual executors of the estate of a New York resident alleged that they were both citizens of New York and brought a diversity action against defendants whom they alleged to be citizens of Florida. Subsequently, it was determined that one of the defendants was, in fact, a citizen of New York. In an attempt to preserve diversity jurisdiction, the plaintiffs thereupon applied successfully to have the letters testamentary that had been issued to one of the plaintiff-executors, Faber, revoked. They then sought to amend their pleadings to drop Faber as a party-plaintiff and, further, to aver that the remaining plaintiff-executor, Watt, was actually a citizen of Great Britain. Accepting the averment that Watt was in fact not a citizen of New York but of a foreign state, the Supreme Court nevertheless held that the circuit court was without jurisdiction on the ground that, even though Watt then was the sole executor of the estate, he was at the time the suit was filed only one of two executors and could not at that time have maintained the suit on his own. As the Court stated: the difficulty with this attempt to obviate the fatal defect in jurisdiction was that the record showed that Watt was not the sole surviving executor (of the deceased) when the bill was filed . . . . It therefore appeared that Watt could not have maintained the bill as amended . . . when the bill as originally framed was filed, and jurisdiction could no more be given to the Circuit Court by the amendment (dismissing the non-diverse party) than if a citizen of Florida had sued another in that court, and subsequently sought to give it jurisdiction by removing from the State. (138 U.S. at 708, 11 S.Ct. at 453.)